Frederick MCCUBBIN | Sketch for 'An interior'

Frederick MCCUBBIN
Australia 1855 – 1917

Sketch for 'An interior' c.1911
oil on board
signed 'F McCubbin' lower right
22.5 (h) x 29.3 (w) cm
Art Gallery of Ballarat gift of Hugh McCubbin, 1958


Although known as a sketch for An interior (cat 47), this small work may simply be a version of the same subject, painted on another day. It differs from the larger An interior in its more expressive handling of paint, in its closer view, and also in the fact that Kathleen is here portrayed wearing a pink dress rather than a blue one, and is seated on a chair rather than a stool. To compensate for the warmer tones of the dress, McCubbin used cooler tones for the ground and walls here.

While probably painted before the larger work, Sketch for ‘An interior’ may have been painted after it. The two paintings convey different moods. It is as if the larger work, with its clearly defined outlines and rich fruity colours, is an Adagio in C major, while the smaller work, with its rapidly painted broken surface and cooler colours is an Allegro in F minor.

McCubbin’s four-year-old daughter, and the model for the two paintings, Kathleen, commented:

At that stage of my life I only thumped on the piano, and I remember that after a while it made my father very nervous. I remember it was the only time I ever got a smack on the back of the hand with his paint brush … I put on such an act that he got terribly contrite as if he had done a terrible thing, so he gave me two shillings, and oh, that was wonderful (Kathleen Mangan, quoted in Mackenzie 1990, p 156).

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